Rebecca White MP | Labor Member for Lyons
The Government is deliberately trying to protect the new Commissioner for Children and Young People from scrutiny under Right to Information.
Labor Leader Rebecca White said it was no coincidence that a day after the appointment of the new Commissioner, the Government tried to amend the RTI Act.
“The Government is conveniently attempting to exempt this position from Right to Information when it has never been excluded before, “ Ms White said.
“Can the Premier honestly claim this is a coincidence or is this a deliberate attempt to shield the Government from further scrutiny?
“We know that in July last year, the former Commissioner for Children and Young People Mark Morrissey wrote to the Government asking it to consider including the position in the RTI Act.
“Why did it take the Government 16 months to act?
“We can only assume it is because the person appointed to this new role happens to be the Deputy Premier’s former Chief of Staff.
“The Government has interfered and removed the fundamental need for the Commissioner’s role to be entirely independent from government and free from political interference.”
Labor is forging ahead with its commitment to work with stakeholders across the state’s key economic sectors to create more full time jobs in Tasmania.
The Labor Party today held the first meeting of its newly established Industry Advisory Councils with Daniel Leesong from the Tourism Industry Council Tasmania chairing the Tourism, Hospitality, Festivals, Heritage and the Arts IAC at Perth this afternoon.
“We know that to create jobs, we need to have real conversations with the people who know our industries best,” Labor Leader Rebecca White said.
“That’s why we have established eight Industry Advisory Councils to develop strong, enduring policy for our state.”
The meeting coincided with a tour of a local whiskey distillery, which is eager to attract more tourists and employ more Tasmanians.
“The owners of Adams Distillery at Perth expressed concerns over a lack of skilled workers available in Tasmania for its business,” Ms White said.
“This whiskey distillery has been so successful, the owners will soon need to employ another distiller but unfortunately they will need to look interstate and overseas as Tasmania lacks appropriate training courses for their industry.
“This is a common theme expressed by many businesses we are visiting around Tasmania and more needs to be done to match these skills shortages with the education and training being offered to Tasmanians.
“Our IACs will focus on the longer term challenges and opportunities facing Tasmania’s economy and our people, including education and training.”
The Morrison Liberal Government has broken a major promise to Tasmanians by outsourcing Medicare jobs in Hobart to a labour hire company.
Shadow Minister for Federal State Relations Rebecca White said the move by the Prime Minister to outsource up to 12 Tasmanian jobs breaks the Federal Government’s commitment to deliver services from within the public service and was further evidence of the Liberal’s determination to privatise Medicare.
“This is a shocking breach of trust by Scott Morrison, especially considering the Liberal Government gave a definitive commitment that no area of Medicare would be privatised,” Ms White said.
“Malcolm Turnbull made what he called an unequivocal commitment in 2016 that every element of Medicare services would continue to be delivered by government.
“To do otherwise now is an extraordinary betrayal of Tasmanians and local jobs.
“If Mr Morrison is serious about that commitment to Medicare and is serious about supporting and keeping federal public service jobs in Tasmania, he will step in and stop this outsourcing.
“Tasmanians and Australians are proud of Medicare and they rely on this crucial service that should not be contracted out to private companies by the government.”
Premier Hodgman’s farcical response to the Sarah Courtney scandal has once again highlighted a weak leader who is totally unprepared to make tough decisions and act in the best interests of Tasmanians.
Labor Leader Rebecca White said the Premier’s failure to take action against a Minister - even in the face of a clear breach of the Ministerial Code of Conduct - proved his Cabinet members would not face reprisals for inappropriate behavior under his weak leadership.
“This is a desperately secretive Premier who is prepared to tolerate unacceptable behavior from the Liberal Members of Parliament who Tasmanians put their trust in to represent them and act with integrity,” Ms White said.
“Tasmanians are right to be questioning yet again this government’s lack of transparency and asking: What does a Minister actually have to do to get sacked by this Premier?
“Today it has been confirmed that Ms Courtney breached the Code of Conduct but despite this, the Premier has failed to remove her from his Cabinet, just as he has refused to move his failed Health Minister Michael Ferguson and just as he has refused to address other glaring problems with his government.
“The Premier must end the secrecy and release full, un-redacted copies of the reports he commissioned because right now there are more questions than answers.
“Tasmanians are no clearer today on the pertinent question of when exactly the relationship between Ms Courtney and Dr John Whittington began which is extremely important because of the conflict of interest and because it raises serious questions about every decision she has made as a Minister.
“The investigation has found that Ms Courtney should have disclosed her relationship on September 13 but the Premier says she told him on October 14 – given the serious nature of this conflict, why did it take more than a month?
“The Premier says Ms Courtney has been counselled but does the same apply to Dr Whittington?
“Were staff from DPIPWE interviewed as part of this investigation or were their concerns ignored?
“Have these investigations looked at the potential misuse of taxpayer funds in the course of the relationship between Ms Courtney and Dr Whittington?
“The Premier has to answer these questions – and others – and not attempt to sweep yet another scandal in his government under the carpet.”
Premier Hodgman has an opportunity to show Tasmanians he is prepared to step in and provide solutions to the health crisis rather than play politics on this critical issue.
Labor Leader Rebecca White said the Premier should agree to work toward implementing workable measures that could be put in place quickly to alleviate unprecedented pressure on doctors and nurses, other health professionals and patients.
“Labor has presented the Premier with a detailed list of actions which are readily available to the government to help ease the pressure on emergency departments, reduce waiting lists and give Tasmanians access to the health care they need,” Ms White said.
“The Premier today has the opportunity to show that he understands this issue is above politics. We must work together to ensure this crisis is addressed today, not in 12 or 18 month’s time.
“Tasmanians want leadership from Premier Hodgman. Tasmanians are rightly tired of the arrogance of Michael Ferguson who does not want to act and clearly has no intention of providing effective solutions.”
Ms White called on the Premier to work with Labor to:
WHAT should have been a straightforward building project, pivotal to redevelopment of the Royal Hobart Hospital, has been in chaos for more than six months.
It is worrying and upsetting to Tasmanians that their major capital city hospital should be at the centre of a chain of haphazard and avoidable bungles.
Also worrying is that the Hodgman Government and Health Minister Michael Ferguson seem determined that none of us will understand the true extent of what is going on.
Mr Ferguson and the Government’s appalling secrecy surrounding the debacle in constructing a temporary demountable building at the RHH forecourt is astounding.
Tasmanians want to know what is happening at the Royal and how we reached a point where the Government has so badly botched a temporary demountable building costing $22 million. There are serious questions about the ability of the Government and the Minister to deliver on the bigger picture — the actual $659 million hospital redevelopment.
Dangerous mould infestations have been discovered on the site. Workers have been sent home because the site is unsafe.
The contracted builder has had to pull sections of the temporary building apart, demolishing entire floors and put it back together again.
Sections of roofing have needed to be replaced, along with external cladding.
Timelines around this redevelopment appear hopelessly blown.
Tasmania's child protection system has a problem. It is designed to intervene only when things get truly terrible for children and young people.
By taking this approach, insufficient emphasis is given to the cumulative harm children can endure over the course of their young lives.
We need to support children and young people sooner, rather than waiting until a threshold is broken or a crime is committed.
The National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009-2020 says it best — Australia needs to move from seeing “protecting children” merely as a response to abuse and neglect to one of promoting the safety and wellbeing of children.
The national framework clearly states that emphasis must be given to providing good universal services such as health, education and community services so that children can live in safe and supportive families and communities. Tasmania’s Child and Family Centres are perfect examples of places where all children and their families are welcome and where all Tasmanian parents and carers can access information and support from pregnancy onwards.
The early years are critical for the development of attachment and good social, emotional and physical health for all children.
There are many wonderful programs operating in our community to provide solid foundations for Tasmania’s children and their families, such as Pregnant and Young Parent Support, New Parent and Infant Network and Integrated Family Support. They really do change lives.
When you sack more than 260 staff across Tasmania’s state primary and high schools – nearly 160 of them teachers – you are not acting in the best interests of education, let alone in the best interests of our future generations.
Yet in 2014 that’s what the State and Federal Liberal Governments did – slashing more than $2.1 billion from Tasmania’s public health and education.
Across Tasmania this month students have returned to school, but unfortunately it’s not all good news. Class sizes have blown out, in some cases to more than 30 students. The Liberals cuts mean resources for literacy and numeracy support have decreased, as well as music, drama and language classes – important programs that ensure students remain engaged in learning.
It means our kids are missing out.
This month a Labor Government has committed to restoring the damage done by the Liberals. We’ve spoken to teachers, students and parents and they’ve all asked us to repair the damage done to our schools.
Labor will invest in education because doing so makes our state stronger and fairer and because Labor stands for accessible and quality life-long learning. Labor will make Tasmania the Education State, in order to this Labor will:
Public education should be valued and continually developed. Our schools and teachers are something to be safeguarded and enriched, not ripped apart.
You can read more about Tasmanian Labor’s policy at our website: http://taslabor.com/making-tasmania-the-education-state/
As we race towards the end of the year I have the pleasure of attending many end of year assemblies held at schools across Lyons. There I get to hear about all the wonderful achievements our young people have made in 2015 and celebrate their hard work.
However, many young Tasmanians also grow up with mental health issues such as anxiety or depression. I am reminded of Sophie, a young inspiring leader, who as well as completing year 12 was also involved in a number of community organisations. Sophie is just one of many young Tasmanians that experience mental ill-health at some stage during adolescence. Across Australia 14% of young people experience mental ill-health at some stage during adolescence; this is equivalent to 16,850 young people in Tasmania.
It’s time to ensure there is appropriate support in schools for students experiencing mental ill-health.
To ensure all young people get the chance to succeed and reach their full potential a Labor Government will provide compulsory age appropriate Social and Emotional Learning programs in primary and high schools to compliment work already being done in classrooms.
It is widely acknowledged that early intervention and prevention during childhood and adolescence is the most effective way to promote positive mental health.
Introducing programs into the classroom of every Tasmanian public school will help give all children and young people such as Sophie the opportunity to develop personal and social competence, manage their emotions and behaviours, perceive and understand other people’s emotions and viewpoints and form positive relationships.
Labor is committed to addressing the stigma associated with mental health and determined to improve the health and wellbeing of all Tasmanians.